Just eight days after winning Wimbledon, Serena Williams successfully switched to hardcourts and won the Premier-level Bank of the West Classic for her 43rd title, tying sister Venus for the most WTA titles among active players.
In the first all-American final on home soil in eight years, the top-seeded Williams defeated fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 7-5 6-3, retaining her straight-set route to the trophy even though Vandeweghe was serving for the first set and had a set point. Before the final, Williams lost a total of just 10 games in her victories over Nicole Gibbs in the second round, Chanelle Scheepers in the quarterfinals and Sorana Cirstea in the semis.
Vandeweghe was a lucky loser in the draw. This week she reached her first WTA semifinal and the run to the finals lifted her from No.120 to a career-high No.69 in the rankings. (photo via Bank of the West Classic)
Coco Vandeweghe lost to Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in the last round of qualifying for the $740,000 Bank of the West Classic, then entered the tournament main draw when Bojana Jovanovski pulled out, and now she's all the way into her first WTA final, becoming the first lucky loser in seven years to reach the title match. The last obstacle between Vandeweghe and the Stanford trophy will be fellow American top seed Serena Williams.
In the semifinals the 20-year-old Vandeweghe defeated fifth seed Yanina Wickmayer 6-2 3-6 6-2, winning 86% of points on her first serve. However, only 47% of her first serves went in and that's something she has to improve. Serena beat ninth seed Sorana Cirstea 6-1 6-2 in the semis, hitting 14 winners to 14 unforced errors, while her opponent hit 10 winners to 32 unforced errors.
"I never dreamed about winning a Grand Slam, just about playing with Pete" – that's what Marion Bartoli said at this week's Bank of the West Classic in Stanford after realizing her childhood fantasy of hitting with ATP World Tour legend Pete Sampras. However, as much as off-court activities were fulfilling for the second-seeded Bartoli, her on-court performance was below the capacities of the 2009 Stanford champion and runner-up in 2008 and 2011 that she is.
In the second round Bartoli rebounded from a 5-2 deficit in the first set and even saved set points before winning 11 straight games for a 7-5 6-0 victory over unranked Mallory Burdette, while in the quarterfinals she fell to Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 6-2.
However, the following quote of Bartoli assures me that she will soon forget the loss and remember this Stanford only by Sampras:
He would never overact on court. He was very much the same person on and off the court. The way he was loyal to his family and his coaches, the way he cried on court against Jim Courier at the Australian Open, that's the kind of person I like. He was the greatest champion. I just liked him and no one else!
In the other quarterfinal matches, top seed Serena Williams advanced with a 6-4 6-0 win over Chanelle Scheepers, Coco Vandeweghe followed up her upset win over fourth seed Jelena Jankovic with a victory over Urszula Radwanska to book her first WTA semifinal, while Sorana Cirstea was victorious in quite a ridiculous match against Dominika Cibulkova. Cirstea was correct on six of nine challenges in the first set of her 6-7(5) 6-2 6-0 victory.
Toward the end of the set I was challenging everything because I didn’t trust anyone anymore. I thought someone was playing a joke on me to see how I would react. It was like Candid Camera because there were too many mistakes. I started to laugh because it was just hilarious. The chair umpire never ruled and today if we didn’t have a challenge system I would be packing my bags for San Diego.
Omair is known for his statistical contributions to Women's Tennis Blog, but as of Roland Garros he started doing post-Grand Slam awards, giving WTA players awards they deserved on the account of their performance. You will see how the tables are turning all the time – within just a month Serena improved from the Biggest Disappointment to Grass Empress, while Maria Sharapova downgraded from the Clay Queen to the Biggest Disappointment.
Serena Williams – GRASS EMPRESS
Serena Williams was coming off a first-round defeat at Roland Garros, her first ever first-round exit at Grand Slam, but she rebounded beautifully, reminding us that she still is the player to beat on grass. The American defeated three of the Top 4 players on her way to the Wimbledon 2012 title - Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals (world No.4 and defending champion), Victoria Azarenka in the semis (world No.2 and reigning Australian Open champion) and Agnieszka Radwanska in the final (world No.3). To top that off, Serena went on to win the doubles title as well, with sister Venus Williams.
Agnieszka Radwanska – FINESSE QUEEN
In today's game of power and big hitters, in making the Wimbledon final Radwanska showed us with her crafty play and her court sense that there still is room for finesse players. She did what neither Petra Kvitova, nor Victoria Azarenka managed to do, i.e. take a set off Serena Williams. Before Wimbledon, Radwanska was the only member of the Top 15 never to have made a Grand Slam semifinal, but she went one step better at Wimbledon making the final and falling in three sets to one of the best grass-court players ever. Read more »
Gold dress for golden performance. Serena Williams, the 2012 Wimbledon champion in both singles and doubles, attended the Wimbledon Championships 2012 Winners Ball at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel in London on Sunday.
Wearing a knee-length figure-flattering dress with see-through neckline and sleeves, the 30-year-old American showed off the curvaceous body that impressively produced 102 aces en route to the Venus Rosewater Dish. Read more »